Clean Keto vs. Dirty Keto – The Whole Explanation

(Last Updated On: January 5, 2020)

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that enables the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis.
The state requires the body to burn fat for energy by converting it to ketones to supply power to the brain.

This premise for adopting a keto diet has been to help people lose weight.

However, there has been an exciting twist to the diet known as the dirty keto diet. It has become incredibly popular, thanks to the prospect of losing weight while taking in junk food.

The idea is similar to a clean keto diet, but instead of meeting fat requirements by eating healthy foods, people binge on junk food three or more times a day.


What A Clean Keto Diet Entails

keto macros
The body gets energy from glucose, the sugar molecule found in carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, the keto diet puts the body in a different state where it relies on fat for energy.

As such, it is a high-fat, low-carb diet that generates 70-75% of calories from fat, 5-10% from carbs, and 20-25% from protein.

The diet has become incredibly popular for its ability to cause substantial fat loss.

A clean keto diet focuses on taking whole, unprocessed foods that are high in fiber and low in carbs but still rich in other nutrients.

Such foods include green veggies, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, and pasture-raised pork.


What about Dirty Keto?

With a dirty Keto diet, the source of fat does not matter when on a keto diet as long as you meet the standard requirement of 70-75% calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs.

For example, you can eat cheeseburgers and bacon, which are high in protein and fat, and low in carbs, remember to remove the bun or replace with a keto-friendly bread.

It also includes eating seemingly healthy things such as protein bars, and other snacks claimed to have low carbs and free of sugars.


Clean vs. Dirty Keto

Clean Keto Foods include:


  • Monosaturated Fats:

    It involves eating foods rich in healthy fats like ghee, nut butter, avocados, and coconut oil. Also, people on a keto diet should stick to using healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, and avocado oil as they contain healthier fats.

  • High-Fiber Vegetables:

    Most vegetables are rich in fiber, which makes their net carbs incredibly low. Examples include kale, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and romaine lettuce. When pairing them with fat, you may stir-fry them in coconut oil, bake them in butter or steam and eat with an avocado.

  • Hydrating:

    Water, green veggie juice, and herbal tea make healthy drinks. Adequate hydration is essential when on a keto   diet as you are reducing the amount of sugar and sodium in your diet.

Dirty Keto Foods Include:

dirty keto

  • Processed Foods:

    Artificial foods riddled with chemicals disrupt the function of gut bacteria. Sugar-free foods like protein bars contain sweetened sugar alcohols.

  • Full-Fat Dairy Products:

    Full-fat cheese is an excellent example. Excessive consumption of high-fat dairy products leads to the accumulation of saturated fat, which puts you at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

  • Red And Processed Meats:

    Red meats such as bacon, sausage, and beef are unhealthy. A keto diet requires the consumption of less processed, leaner foods like poultry and fish like salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein.


Why People Love A Dirty Keto Diet?

The most obvious reason people love a dirty keto diet is convenience.

The low-carb, high-fat diet may be incredibly challenging to adhere to, especially if you are a beginner.

As long as you attain the keto diet fat requirements, you can get away with a steak smothered in butter. If you are visiting a fast-food restaurant, steer clear of the bread and sugary drinks!


Should You Try The Dirty Keto Diet?

We don’t recommend it unless it is necessary. If you are traveling or don’t have time to plan out a healthy keto diet, you may try it out as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

Keep in mind a dirty keto diet removes the substantial component of the original diet by focusing on macronutrients.

As a result, the body experiences a deficiency in gut-nourishing nutrients such as resistant starches and prebiotic fibers.

There’s also the concern of taking lots of pro-inflammatory fat and high-saturated fats, which cause heart disease and diabetes.

As such, it necessary to take note of the type of fat consumed when on a high-fat diet. Healthy, unsaturated fats like nuts, olive oil, fatty fish are excellent options when on a dirty keto diet.


Can Dirty Keto Help You Lose Weight?

dirty keto lose weight
Yes, you can still lose weight.

The premise for a keto diet is to place the body into a state of ketosis. When eating on a dirty keto lifestyle, you can still be in ketosis.

However, you will need to consume fewer calories than the body burns daily, keep the carb intake less than 50g, and take enough dietary fats.


Cons of A Dirty Keto Diet

A dirty keto diet allows you to take large amounts of processed foods and vegetable oils to attain the required macro counts.

However, the body misses out on micronutrients like minerals, enzymes, and vitamins, which are equally crucial to your overall health.

micronutrient foods


Micronutrients Perform Several Roles in The Body:

  • Keep the immune system healthy. It explains why people on a dirty keto diet often develop flu
  • Fight off oxidants that lead to aging
  • Help the skin look great
  • Prevent weight gain when you are off the diet
  • Prevent inflammation, bloating and the development of weak bones

Another major flaw of a dirty keto diet is that it will not help the body reap its full capability versus eating a clean keto lifestyle.

To achieve a ketosis state, you have to restrict your carb and fat intake and monitor the number of proteins taken.

The body can still break down proteins to provide energy, a process known as gluconeogenesis. A dirty keto diet encourages you to take in more proteins, possibly inhibiting ketosis.

Failure to achieve the ketosis state causes the body to feel hungry fast. Fat makes you feel fuller; however, it takes longer to digest than other macronutrients.

It explains why people on a dirty keto diet feel the need to snack often.

Also, you are likely to ignore the importance of adequate consumption of calories and the quality of your diet.

You are causing a detrimental effect if you are on a weight loss routine. Calories promote weight loss by ensuring the diet is sustainable in the long-term.

A well-balanced diet supplies the body with all the essential nutrients required for good health.

Dirty keto, on the other hand, restricts the consumption of many foods rich in nutrients: veggies, fruits, legumes, grains. It makes it difficult for the body to obtain essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

Supplements may come in handy, but there is also a chance you will not meet the nutrient requirement.


How to Start on A Clean Keto Diet

drinking water
Reducing sugar and carb intake is a great start but if getting into nutritional ketosis here are a few tips for you:

  • Avoid taking processed foods
  • Get into intermittent fasting, so you eat once or twice a day
  • drink lots of water
  • Include a serving of veggies in every meal


Is Dirty Keto Easier to Follow?

Yes, it is easy to follow as you don’t have to proper meal plan. It allows you to eat anything as long as it does is low in carbs.

While you will lose weight, it can cause detrimental effects to the body, as discussed in the previous section.


Wrap Up

A dirty keto diet provides the same macronutrients as those available on a clean keto diet. However, it deprives the body and the essential brain micronutrients, making it dangerous to follow as an ongoing diet regimen.

The most obvious effect is the reduced fiber content, which is an essential nutrient for digestion — fiber aids in bowel regularity hence the likelihood of developing constipation when on a dirty keto diet.

chia seeds
High fiber intake protects against digestive disorders such as stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and hemorrhoids. Also, there is the aspect of altering the gut microbiome.

The microbiomes help in digestion, aid in mental health, boost immunity, and prevent certain illnesses.

A dirty keto diet is likely to disrupt these functions by damaging the composition and concentration of gut bacteria.

Chia Seeds is one of the highest fiber to weight ratios. 

Serving Size: 1 cup
Serving Weight: 160g 
Fiber 55.0g

A clean keto diet should help you achieve your weight loss goals without disrupting the normal body functions. Keep in mind; there are little studies that show that a dirty keto diet is indeed valid.

Many researchers are concerned that the diet affects one’s health over time, despite any weight loss achieved.

As such, if you are not following a healthy keto diet, take note of the quality of food you eat.



As you can see, try the best to eat clean keto. Focus on organic vegetables, grass-fed meat and butter, and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil.

The healthy way is still the best option to lose weight, and of course, remember it will be long-term health benefits for you.

Please leave a message below what you think about eating clean keto.

Cheers to Healthy Living,
Anh-Tu and Sigmund
Anhtu & Sigmund

Sharing is Caring!

  1. Mary

    Great distinction between the two. I know several people that follow KETO, but after this review, I see that they are on the “dirty keto” diet. This not only helps me understand why their diet isn’t consistently working, but also a great explanation of an easier way to stay clean, and maintain ketosis in the body. Thanks for sharing your knowledge clarifying the Keto diet!

  2. Kate

    Hello dear! I’m very seriously thinking about starting a ketonic diet, so your blog has proven to be very useful as a research tool about it. A friend of mine is already following a keto diet and let me tell you he eats excactly what you mentioned to be a dirty keto diet. I will definitely share your post with him since he is wondering why his diet isn’t working very well. 😛 Thank you!

  3. Lane

    I’m glad you broke this down because I didn’t know that there was a difference between clean vs dirty keto. Personally, I still need a bit of education in keto but it was always my understanding that bad foods lead to pounds.

    Adding more fruit, veggies and healthy grains is the way to go. Just that burger in the above picture looks deadly.

  4. Tom

    Great to see the two lined up like that.

    I am a type 2 diabetic and I do believe I will stick to clean keto to be honest. I actually combine it with Banting which I still believe to be very similar to clean keto 🙂 You can check it out here:

    Anyhow I managed to stop using any medication and my sugar levels are normal.

    Replacing sugars with saturated fat absolutely saved my life.

  5. Frederick Steele

    Awesome post and website! I just started Keto about 1.5 months ago and I have found myself in situations where I needed to dirty Keto for a meal and then I try to get back on the clean Keto. One of my wife’s biggest concern is me eating healthy while on the diet, however everyone that does Keto understands when eating out for dinner is a struggle. Thanks for the input! Down 24 pounds and about 20 pounds to go!

  6. James

    I’m also on a low-carb diet (I wouldn’t call it exactly keto because my body isn’t in the actual state of ketosis) and I focus heavily on eating healthy. I think most people simply don’t want to accept the fact that no matter which diet you follow, eating whole and healthy foods is at the heart of it! The worst is processed foods and vegetable oils, as you have pointed out. The problem is that almost all convenient food consists of these ingredients… besides a salad I guess 😀 So when the cravings come, it’s hard to stick with it. I think a good keto recipe book really helps here, even if you have to buy one it pays off… a lot less stress and hustle for me.

  7. Janet

    Hi Anh-Tu, thanks alot for this information. I am glad i bumped in to your article. i have been hearing alot about Keto diet and didnt really know what the fuss is all about but you have clarified it pretty well. I have been doing an on and off Intermittent fasting but not necessarily watching my carbs and fat intake but this is an eye opener. I will surely incorporate some of your tips in my diet. Thanks again.

  8. Carol

    This is one of the best explanations I have seen. Excellently phrased and honest. I love that you said YES clean is harder than dirty! Because it is! Yes, absolutely changing ones diet is difficult, however a sound understanding of and commitment to healthy gut healthy brain will take us on a happy journey. I love your attitude.

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